In the 1930’s there was a fairly well known operetta called Princess Charming. I have never seen it, but a few clicks down the Google-sphere, and I came to learn that the plot centers around a young princess due to marry an elderly king in order to prevent an uprising in her kingdom. However, as love triangles are known to do, she falls in love instead with a military officer and they elope.
Although it’s the common story of elderly-boy-meets-girl, girl-meets-someone-else, I have to say, what drew me to researching the operetta in the first place was the name. I sort of like the idea of the Princess getting to be the charming one. She who swoops in and sweeps her man off his feet. Who wakes the Prince from a deep sleep, finds his missing shoe, rescues the fair gentleman from his tower. Who rides in on the white horse and defeats the bad guy in a sword fight and gets it done. And in my fairy tale, Princess Charming also does it all in a fabulous dress…
Speaking of a bit of girl power, there has been a lot of news in the media lately surrounding speaking out against sexual misconduct. For most women, sexual harassment is not news, as we know this is an all pervasive problem. The #metoo act was certainly not for our fellow ladies, as we know we deal with daily harassment (both big and micro-aggressions), but rather for the men in our lives to understand the depth of the problem. Lately, many more women have been speaking out about injustices they’ve faced – harassment, assault, rape – at the hands of men in power. Everyone from their boss to a neighbor to a stranger who simply thought he could. And this movement has swelled in recent weeks and now includes so many voices, the cacophony has lead to court cases, the firing of CEOs, and a much-needed spotlight on an issue that we have finally said in one voice, we will not tolerate.
I have also heard a lot of criticism of this movement. Surprisingly, even some of my fellow ladies in arms read about Weinstein, O’Reilly, Cosby…and see this kind of behavior as “just what happens in Hollywood.” Except it certainly isn’t restricted to tinsel town. And I personally refuse to accept a world where this kind of behavior is normalized. And although it may be viewed as a bit of bandwagon jumping to some, to me I see it as a collective force of women being their own knight in shining armor. Rescuing themselves. As the Times People of the Year shouted from the rooftop: it’s about time we honored the silence breakers, instead of hushing them up.
Some of the negative opinions I’ve heard surrounding this uprising against sexism are upsetting. Or worse than the negativity, the quiet acceptance. The “boys will be boys” mentality or the “can’t fight city hall” approach. And to those who see it as a “bunch of angry women” seizing an opportunity and grabbing their 15 minutes – let me offer an alternative view. More than anything, I see it as many women using their stories as a platform for change. Taking a painful experience and leveraging it, so that another silent woman might share her story. Coming forward and speaking out (or, in some cases, coming forward yet again, but this time with a throng so powerfully loud that it forces people to listen). Deriving power from one another to share the most humiliating, horrifying, and debilitating experiences that were silenced time and time again. Creating a canopy of solidarity – giving strength to those who have fallen silent out of fear. You better believe they’re angry – I’m angry too. And if you’re not, something is very wrong.
There is not a single woman I know who hasn’t been faced with these situations. Where every day, every time it happens, from the migro-aggressions to the Weinstein-esque situations, we weigh our options. Do I speak up? Will I be hurt? Am I overreacting? Did that really just happen? I don’t want to be that girl. Should I just laugh it off? I don’t want to make him mad. Where’s my escape route in case he gets really mad? Will I be fired if I say something? Have I left it too long to say something? God, was it my fault? Maybe I shouldn’t have worn this. Maybe I lead him on. Maybe I’ll just forget it ever happened. These questions and thoughts that swirl around your head daily, in every instance, every time someone makes an off color comment, brushes against you inappropriately, or tries to undermine your self-worth. And money always talks, so even the women who spoke up and asked for change or justice, they were often hushed up, brushed aside, buried in litigation, or told in a million different languages the ways in which they were expendable.
And that’s what this movement is: Helping other women – housekeeper or actress, journalist or professor – find their voice. This is not a media blitz that sprung up overnight due to a reporter who thought they could make a story or a bunch of women looking to go on a witch hunt – this has always existed. It’s been slowly simmering, waiting to finally bubble over. And it should bubble over. It should bubble over in a hot, fiery inferno for the single mother who finds the strength to speak out about her lecherous boss, without fearing she might lose her job. It needs to bubble over for the young actresses who’s body has nothing to do with their talent. We’re talking hot molten lava for every woman who was groped, every time you’ve walked to your car with keys in your hand, and every time you questioned yourself instead of questioned the one who was doing wrong. And more than anything, it needs to bubble for the 14 year old girls, who need to see women being praised for speaking out. That they might grow up to know the behavior that is not normal and not okay.
And I’m not so naive to think that change will happen overnight. But I want to believe that slowly, it is gaining ground. That the culture that has taught us this is “just what happens,” will slowly shift. Maybe this is the way it’s always been. But it’s not the way I want it to be. And I hope it’s no longer the way we will accept.
So, thank you silence breakers. Both the famous, but also the quiet warriers among you. The once who speak out and speak up, for yourself and for those around you. Because the only way we can enact change is to refuse to accept the status quo.
It’s a veritable army of Princess Charmings. We are our own knights in shining stilettos. And it’s time we let the world know it.
Dress: Sweet Life Vintage (similar modern or vintage here, here & here)
Bracelet: Gift (similar)
Belt: Alannah Hill
Handbag: Kate Spade, in mint
Shoes: thrifted from Bettina Darling (similar here & here)
Lip Color: Schiap